COMING into the home stretch of the 1,500m, the final event of a gruelling two days of competition in the Decathlon Open that was being contested at Champs for the first time, Jamaica College's Giovannie White spread both long arms wide saluting the appreciative crowd.
White, who led the competition overnight and had a 557-point buffer over Munro College's Clifton Lee with 5,334 to 4,777, ran 5 minutes 38.47 seconds to finish ninth, but it was enough to give him the first ever Champs Decathlon gold.
The Jamaica College Sixth Form student finished with 5,693 points to establish a new Champs record, while Kingston College's Darron Hunter, who won the 1,500m with an impressive 4 minutes 45.72 seconds, leapt several places from fifth to grab the silver with 5,324 points, pushing Lee to third with 5,297 points.
The Decathlon was one of four new events being contested this year along with the two 2,000m steeplechase Open and the boys javelin Open.
White, who described himself as a "jumper with speed" from his days at St Jago and who was fifth in the Heptathlon that was contested for the last time last year, established several personal bests, in the pole vault (3.50m), high jump (1.91m), as well as a creditable 6.77m in the long jump, just off his personal best of 6.98m.
In an interview just after the event on Thursday, White, who has seven subjects in the CXCs and four CAPE and who plans to sit the SATs soon, told the Observer he was considering several US College options, as he intends to continue competing in the 10-event discipline.
He described the two days of the event as "tough and difficult", but said there was "unity and friendly atmosphere among all 14 competitors who started the event on Wednesday".
"We became close as each competitor would cheer on the others in every event, especially the jumps," and had harsh criticism for coaches who entered boys in the event knowing they were not competent to execute all the different events.
"It is a disgrace that the coaches put the boys in the event knowing they had not coached them properly," he said, making specific reference to the pole vault where only four competitors were able to make a mark.
One athlete, Oshan Webb of Spot Valley High, suffered facial injuries as he attempted his first clearance of the 2.60m starting height and had to be taken to the medical area bleeding from a cut.
The accident had prompted an emergency meeting of the competitors and their coaches and officials.
White said while he was strong in the jumps, he still had some work to do in the throwing events, but said he had time to work on them.